13 May 2008

Jamon, Jamon (Ham, Ham!)

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We had fish and chips for dinner tonight. Sometimes I'm too exhausted from you know, going to lectures at 11am or whatever it is that students do, to make dinner so I do something like Tomato Rice or pasta with whatever's in the freezer biffed in it. Tonight I couldn't even get that far. As I've mentioned before, I get unnattractively grouchy if I can't cook dinner; let this be an indication of how munted I am from schoolwork. I'm not going to outline the details, they're not that interesting, but let me tell you this: my brain feels crispy.


Above: This actually is pasta with everything, and is what we had for dinner a few nights ago. Kindly take a moment to really admire the photo, because it took me a squillion goes to get it right, holding the ladle in my right hand, resting the mini-tripod against my bosom, (not, by any means, the most level of surfaces) and using my left hand to adjust the aperture and press the button...the things I'll do to have a macro shot like the cool kids! I'll warn you now, my photos aren't that great this time, but (external validation! Swoon!) my honeycomb picture two posts down was one of the most-hit-upon links on tastespotting.com! People rate me up there with Peanut Butter Green Tea Cupcakes with a Creme Brulee Centre and Vegan Mocha Peppermint Chip Frosting! (Ohhh, I'm not being snarky, but really, those cupcakes! I can haz clarity?)

Back to the pasta, I started off emulating Nigella's Baked Veal and Ham pasta, (minus the veal of course - can't afford) from How To Eat. In the end the only thing that the two had in common was ham and a splash of Marsala, and instead I just loaded the dish up with vegetables - capsicum, frozen peas, spinach, carrot, onion...it would have been a fairly healthy dinner had I not stirred a heap of butter into the pasta after draining it. Like a moth to the flame...



Above: Hot dish coming! And he's carrying pork! Oh go on, force out a chuckle. I got Tim to be the bearer of Sunday night's dinner because the there were no clean surfaces in the kitchen at the time and I didn't like the idea of putting it on the floor to take the photo. We hardly ever have pork, because I want quality, happy pig stuff which is even more expensive than your normal variety. But Tim and I saw that per kilo pork was cheaper than mince at the supermarket the other day, which is how we ended up with it. I served it, Italian-style (by which I mean, I don't know if it bears any relation to Italy) with a bowlful of brown lentils, into which I stirred spinach and tinned tomatoes. This is so easy and makes a proper, big dirty old fashioned roast.

Care of Nigella, via How To Eat.

Loin of Pork with Bay Leaves

(I should point out here that I'm not sure if what we had on Sunday was a loin - I'd totally fail at Letterman's Know Your Cuts of Meat game - but it worked fine anyhow)

6 T extra virgin olive oil (this is 125mls or half a cup, I dare say you could use less, I did)
4 cloves garlic, crushed somewhat
6 peppercorns, also crushed, or "bruised" as Nigella poetically instructs...
6 dried or fresh bay leaves
2 1/2 kilos loin o' pork, boned derinded and rolled (which will give you 1.8kg oven-ready pork)
1 medium onion
More bay leaves
150mls white wine.

In a large bowl or snaplock plastic bag, marinate the pork in the oil, garlic, and peppercorns (I used mild and beautiful pink ones), for as long as you have, be it one hour or 24 hours. I'd veer towards the latter but my pork only sat around for three and was scrumptious so there you go. I also only used two bay leaves in the marinade. Did you know, we have a bay tree at home, which has been my home for 22 years now, and it was only in April - last month - that I realised that what I thought was the bay tree was actually nothing of the sort, and the innocent bay itself was about three trees over. Goodness knows what I've been putting in our corned beef...Heat the oven to 200 C. Make sure the pork is at room temperature before you cook it. Tumble the pork with its marinade into a roasting dish, slice up the onion and add it along with more bay leaves as you wish. Roast for 1 3/4 hours, basting at regular intervals. Once it is done, use the wine to deglaze the pan for delicious gravy. Mm, pork fat. Oh and the onion bits taste incredible. Cook's treat. I actually used some bacon fat, leftover from flatmate Emma's morning fryup, to shmeer over the pork, this made the pan juices, and indeed my arteries, marvelously hammy.
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This should serve six, if you follow directions. Our bit of pork had a whacking great bone in the middle, with some judicious carving it might have served four people who are far too polite to pretend how hungry they are. Or two with plenty of leftovers.
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Above: With the leftovers the next night - Monday - I made a sort of salady thing (much to Tim's quiet dismay, having been cheated out of roast potatoes the night before, and now there were more lentils) comprising of the leftover pork, steamed brocolli, and more brown lentils. The salad was actually delicious, with wonderfully contrasting textures and the earthiness of the lentils and the red wine vinegar I splashed in cutting through the fat pork. I gotta say I have a lot of time for humble brown lentils - cheaper and slightly nuttier than the Puy variety and pleasingly they hold their shape unlike red lentils.

Perhaps one day people will link me with lentils the way that they mention Proust every time they make madelines.

Above: Patatas Bravas, which is Spanish for love. And is the awesomest thing Spain has ever graced us with (apart from, perhaps, Javier Bardem, hence the title of this post) Oh sure, I love roast potatoes (Nigella style, with semolina and buckets of fat) but this stuff is truly transcendant, and is what I made to go with the salad above. I first found it in The Accidental Vegetarian but never consult the recipe; you needn't either. Simply take lots and lots of floury potatoes, cube them, and while you are doing this heat up some olive oil in a roasting dish in a 200 C oven. Tip your potatoes into the hot roasting dish and let them bake for about 20 minutes till crispy. If you have garlic cloves on you, throw some in. After they've baked for a bit, stir in a tin or two of chopped tomatoes (depending on the size of your dish) and some chopped red chilli if you like (I don't) and put it back in for another 20 minutes or so. Viola, a vat of Patatas Bravas! Not to be particular about it but if you don't love this you hardly deserve tastebuds.
It's even better the next day.

Congratulations to Tim's mother who is graduating on Wednesday (again!) from Massey. Now Tim's mother is nice and all but when we are getting B's and whatnot at uni and the powers that be are having to invent new letters for her because A+ isn't high enough...well, it certainly spurs you on.

In non-food news, and if you're interested - these aren't the photos that got ridiculed last week, but in fact a new batch for the next assignment, ready for whatever criticism comes their way in class. I decided to post them because they took forever to do, but are never going to actually get used (they're basically a draft.) Maybe also to showcase the fact that I got to level 61 Tetris with a score of 980,000. I am a Tetris Savant. Of all things... Please excuse the crudity of my photos, they aren't finished products. Oh, and the concept itself - the classic tale, boy plays tetris, boy awakes to find tetris pieces floating everywhere, boy nearly crushed by stacking tetris pieces, boy at the mercy of however I figure out the end of the concept, Laura trying to convince everyone she didn't come up with this on an acid trip. (Am far too meek for that sort of thing; My density brought me here.)


Above: On the one hand, yes, Tim needs a haircut. On the other hand: Fierce!

Above: The red thing there is the roof of our flat (I spake the truth when I said we were wedged into a hill.) I realise the tetris pieces might look a little rough, but once photographed ($2 shop mosaic pieces!) every shape had to be painstakingly resized, the saturation adjusted, rotated, and layered on individually, with the background brushed out. Yeah, I don't understand Photoshop either.

Above: Model through it. The background shot of Tim wasn't terribly well lit, but the battery flattened on me and I didn't have time to take more. However I'm rather fond of this. Am very nervous about how it will all go in class, mind you I'm so tense I'll probably just burst into sobs when the teacher says hello, let alone actually starts to critique my work.


Better than crying though, would be to boldly inquire "What? Why?Be more constructive with your feedback, please. Why?"

(Passe, I know, to be quoting FOTC now and not in 2002 before they got enormous or something, but still a salient question, I feel.)

8 comments:

  1. That pork pasta sounds good. I have not had much luck with taking photos of something that I am holding with the other hand. Congrats on your photo doing well on tastespotting, it is a good one. Nice tetris photos! I have not tried editing photos to add things to them yet. It looks like fun.

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  2. AnonymousMay 14, 2008

    So who is this handsome young fellow in those tetris photos?? I feel like I know him some how... Oh wait that's me!! I think they are sweet photos no matter what your crazy teacher says!!!

    Tim

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  3. Great photos Laura. Well done.

    You have a little something to collect from my blog, do pop over: http://culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/award-time/

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  4. Congrats to Tim's Mum on her excellent achievement.

    Interesting photos - good to see Tim.

    Pork looks wonderful.

    Have really enjoyed visiting the blogs of your commenters.

    Lee family looking forward to visiting you this weekend. (Tidy up the flat....)

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  5. Kevin: Thanks, and it is fun, if a little time-consuming and soul-destroying.

    Tim: :)

    George: Thanks so much, very sweet! Will have to put it on my sidebar asap :) :) :)

    Mum: Tidying right now (not *right now* obviously, but it's happening) Going to be a very busy weekend, btw the Lees, Kieran coming down, the food show and, um, hopefully hours of study and working on assignments somewhere. Stress!

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  6. That pork looks delicious. One of the best things about roast pork is figuring out what to do with the leftover:-)

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  7. I love the pictures and I love the concept. Very cool laura.

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  8. Let us hope that the fog does not keep us AK bound over the weekend. We are sending out good weather thoughts and hoping for some 'God Beams' to light our way.
    Looking forward to some Wellington culture. C U soon - with a little luck

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